What Is an SEO Consultant? How to Hire One and Not Get Scammed

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen a recent little rant in my Instagram Stories because a digital marketer with a fairly large following wrote a very misinformed post about why you shouldn’t hire someone to help with your SEO (if you missed it, I saved the stories under the highlight called Consultant Info). The SEO industry gets a bad rap (even I get dozens of spam emails that promise to get me on page 1 of Google every week!), but I promise not all of us are out to scam you!

SEO Consultant in Philadelphia

The face of an SEO Consultant that isn’t out to scam you!

So because I’m sure many people are misinformed about what an SEO consultant does and many people have been scammed by people in the SEO industry before, I thought I would tell you what an SEO consultant is and does so you can be informed before hiring someone to optimize your site!

What Is an SEO Consultant? How to Hire One and How to Avoid Getting Scammed

The post that started it all

So essentially what this digital marketer said that really rubbed me the wrong way was that if you are active on social media and writing blog posts, you don’t need SEO help unless the company is also providing social media and blogging services. Guess what? Social media and blogging services aren’t included in any of my SEO packages! And it’s great if you’re active on social media and consistently blogging, but there is WAAAAAAAY more to SEO than those (and honestly, social media is really a separate entity altogether).

Getting your site optimized and ranking higher involves things like site speed, site security, broken links, backlinks, industry authority, keyword research, the quality of your content, and at least a dozen more things. Sure, blogging helps, but do you know how to target the right keywords and topics? Are your blog posts formatted well with images properly compressed with alt tags? That’s where an SEO consultant comes in!

Keyword research on Keysearch

What is an SEO consultant?

So before I explain what I do as an SEO consultant, I need to clear up a few things first. No two SEO consultants are the same. I am also a Pinterest strategist (because Pinterest is a search engine, too!), but some SEO experts are also website designers or brand strategists. Some people do Google Ads, but I don’t. SEO experts serve different industries and different sized companies with different budgets and different needs. So what I’m about to tell you I do as an SEO consultant might be totally different from another SEO consultant!

SEO Consultant and website designer

Previous guest posted Lauren Taylar is a Squarespace designer and SEO expert

I work with creative small businesses that are typically run by solopreneurs, and I’m friends with an SEO expert who works with large aviation companies with lots of employees and contractors. Our SEO strategies are going to be totally different. If you want help with SEO, be sure to find someone who has experience helping your type of business.

So now let’s get to what I actually do

When I start working with a new client, I test their site to make sure nothing is broken. I look for broken links or redirects that aren’t set up properly. I also test their site speed to see what is slowing down their site and assess how to fix it. Many times, large images are tremendously slowing down their sites, but things like Javascript and CSS can be slowing it down, too (if your site is really slow, don’t worry, it’s something I’m always trying to improve for my own site!).

Then I will set up Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Google My Business if one or none have been set up yet. With Google Search Console, I will also submit a sitemap and run performance tests to be sure Google is able to crawl and index all the pages. Some of my clients have Google Analytics but very few have Google Search Console or Google My Business set up, but they can be so helpful with learning how to optimize your site better and ranking higher.

Google Search Console display

So have you noticed that at this point, I have barely even touched the client’s website yet? That’s because there is so much more that goes into SEO than adding keywords to pages!

The rest of the optimization process typically depends on what the client needs. I’ll go in and fix any issues or site speed problems and make sure everything on the back end looks good. Some clients just want their main pages and blog posts optimized, and some want everything on their site optimized. I send clients a packet at the beginning to get information about their ideal clients, and at this point I will do some keyword research specific to their industry and clients before making changes to their site. I will do things like tweak the content, add title tags and meta descriptions, and resize images and add alt tags.

Meta description example

If the client has not added on my content creation packages, I will do keyword research for them to write blog posts, and I will also make recommendations for what they could write about to better reach their ideal clients.

All of my clients have different needs, but that is typically what is involved with getting a site optimized for a short term project. A big part of my business is on teaching (which is why I have an ebook, course, and training videos for my email list), so before I close out the project, I will send my clients information on what I have done and what I recommend they do to help their ranking progress. I’ll show them what to look for in Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Google My Business and how to maintain the techy side of their site. If all of that is too much to keep up with, that’s when my monthly reporting package can help.

SEO Consultant in Philadelphia

What is an SEO agency?

And monthly reporting is what brings me to SEO agencies. An SEO agency is essentially just a company of SEO experts, and they might also do things like social media or website design. But SEO agencies get a really bad rap for monthly reports.

Many people have been scammed by SEO agencies that say that they will optimize a website, but they’re really just sending a report every month for THOUSANDS of dollars that has information on the site’s ranking and traffic. Not all SEO agencies do this, of course, but that is typically why people are skeptical and mistrusting of the SEO industry.

I’m not telling you about agencies to tell you not to work with them because not every agency is a scammer; I’m just telling you this so you’ll be informed and won’t get scammed by a bad company. If you’re looking to hire someone to optimize your site, ask for recommendations from people in your industry and do some research (or ask me for recommendations!). Before you hire someone, ask them exactly what they’re going to do to optimize your website and how you can check their progress.

SEO Consultant in Philadelphia

If you want to try out optimizing your site yourself, you can! Just make sure you know what you’re doing. I have an ebook, course, and lots of blog posts and Instagram posts, and there are lots of other SEO experts with resources for you 🙂 And if you don’t want to do it yourself, you know you can always work with me to get your site optimized.

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  1. Kristen says:

    I used to blog every week, but without a good SEO strategy, it was impossible to rank! Learning SEO and having my SEO audit with a professional was key.

  2. tonya says:

    These are great tips! Thank you for sharing about SEO and finding a consultant!

  3. Heidi says:

    Love this post – Your SEO knowledge is such a help!

  4. Have you optimized any Weebly websites? I’m a Weebly website designer. I add basic SEO to all the sites I create, but I always wonder if there’s more I should be doing. I’ve often wondered exactly what an SEO expert does for their clients, so it was helpful to see this. Frankly, this is my least favorite part of creating websites. 🙂 I’m so glad you like it!

    • juliarenee says:

      I have worked with some Weebly sites before! My ebook might help you with some SEO basics for your clients 🙂 Feel free to ask me if you have any specific SEO questions!

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